With the outbreak of the Corona Virus becoming more of a reality in the UK I thought I would give you an insight into the bodies immune system then follow this up with an article with things you can do to support it.
Our bodies immune system is very complex for good reason. It is composed of six components which all work together to protect your body from disease and infection.
The first is our respiratory system which includes our mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea and of course our lungs. The whole purpose of this system as you know is to provide our body with oxygen and to expel carbon dioxide. As this is one of the main routes of infections into the body as seems to be the case with the Corona Virus, this is our first line of defence. In order to trap this bacteria our airways are lined with a mucus type layer which are designed to trap the bacteria and other particles before they can reach the lungs. Underneath this mucus layer are tiny hair like projections which assist with this process.
The second is your lymphatic system which is a network of nodes, vessels and tissue which are responsible for transporting lymph fluid around the body. Now this fluid is very special as it contains white blood cells which as some of you will know is the part of our blood that contains infection fighting cells. The nodes also have a secondary function and that is to remove waste and toxins from our bodies. Our lymph nodes are situated in various parts of the body and when they become swollen it is usually a sign of a bacterial infection or virus. Common areas where you might notice swollen lymph nodes include your neck, under your chin, in your armpits and in your groin.
The third is our lymphocytes which are the small white blood cells as mentioned above. The cells are composed of two types which are called ‘B’ cells and ‘T’ cells. The ‘B’ cells make antibodies that attack bacteria and other toxins and the ‘T’cells help destroy infected or cancerous cells.
The fourth is the Spleen which works in conjunction with our lymphocytes by storing the white blood cells ready for use and by also filtering the blood and recycling it. It is also capable of fighting other kinds of bacteria.
The fifth is our skin which is technically the bodies largest organ. This obviously serves as an external barrier to protect our organs from the environment. The skins immune systems contains millions and millions of the ‘T’ cells mentioned above.
And finally the last line of the defence and possibly the one that we can have the most influence over and thats the gut. Our gut contains many different kinds of bacteria which is more commonly known as the gut microbiome. If you've read my previous article on fermented foods you will already have an insight into this. Now within our gut microbiome we have what could be classed as good and bad bacteria. Our gut is constantly battling to keep the bad bacteria to a minimum and regulate inflammation. Now Ive mentioned this many times and that is inflammation is the cause of most chronic diseases. So the role of our gut is especially important in fighting infection and it is estimated to be around 60% of our total immune system. As this is the one we are most likely to influence by what we eat then our gut microbiome can’t be underestimated.
Now to keep things simple the above six components are broken down into two separate systems which are designed to compliment each other.
The first system is called the INNATE system and the second is called the HUMORAL system.
Now the bodies first line of defence is to engage the innate system. It does this by the use of our skin as a physical barrier to infection, by the mucous in our airways to trap infection, and by the use of good bacteria within our gut to attack and kill infections. Also as part of this innate process our body produces killer cells which attack infections by eating them.
When this initial system becomes overwhelmed by the attack from infection our body engages its second line of defence and that's the humoral system. This system is designed to be adaptive and adjust to all the bacteria your body has encountered over its entire life. This works by learning to recognise a specific part of the bacteria it has encountered before and to then adjust its attack accordingly. You will recognise this as your body natural immunity to already having had an infection as a child such as chicken pox.
This system allows your body to learn and adjust for any future infections. This will be why it is reported that once you have contracted Corona Virus and become clear you are then immune from the exact same infection again. However like flu the Corona Virus can mutate and change slightly hence why there are reported reinfections in China.
So as you can see our body is well equipped to fight infections from a variety of different angles.
By having an understanding of how our body works you can help do things which support this.
As you can see the main route of infection into the body is via our airway. And because we know that the Corona Virus is a respiratory infection then this must be our first line of defence. If we stop the infection getting inside our body in the first place then all of the other systems wont have to fight the infection. With this in mind we need to limit our contact with large groups of people. We need to be aware of the surfaces we touch and as such we need to be washing our hands numerous times of a day. We also need to be aware of how many times we put our fingers in our mouth or even touch our eyes or nose. Its amazing how many times you do this in a day without realising it.
It is reported that the virus can survive on a smooth surface for up to 72 hours.
In my next article I will cover what you can do to support your immune system.
Stay Clean Stay Safe.